October 21, 2011

Coyle: Let Us Make Sure this 3.6% Raise is not the Last Social Security COLA Ever

Social Security recipients will get a 3.6% increase in benefits next year, their first raise since 2009, federal government officials announced on Wednesday. Alliance Executive DirectorEdward F. Coyle responded to the news in a press release. “Seniors are pleased by today’s announcement of a 3.6 percent Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security beneficiaries.  After two years of no increase, this will help retirees be better able to pay their bills and stay healthy. But today’s news is tempered by reports that the congressional ‘Super Committee’ is considering changes to Social Security that will severely hinder retirees’ ability to keep pace with the rising cost of living.” Coyle continued, “Today’s COLA is good news for retirees, but I worry that it could be the last one many seniors ever see.  Workers and retirees must mobilize to protect the Social Security benefits millions of seniors count on to make ends meet.” Go to http://bit.ly/nMe5XW to read his full statement. The inflation that justifies the benefit increase also will raise the amount of income subject to the portion of the payroll tax supporting Social Security. Currently, workers pay taxes on the first $106,800 of income. Starting next year, they will pay it on the first $110,100. Later on Wednesday afternoon, Coyle discussed the COLA on CNN.

An important new analysis from the Social Security Chief Actuary shows that if the Super Committee proposes to cut the Social Security COLA as part of its deficit reduction strategy, it will overwhelmingly affect current beneficiaries. Many politicians from both political parties who have proposed cutting Social Security have promised that current beneficiaries would NOT be affected. However, cutting the Social Security COLA would be a broken promise to those depending on Social Security today. To see the report, go to http://bit.ly/oiS5CC.

Ohio Alliance Takes Action to Repeal SB-5 and Save Collective Bargaining Rights

Ohio Alliance President Dave Friesner and Treasurer Sally Steagall have developed a crew of coordinators and volunteers from local leadership in the effort to repeal SB-5, a state bill that would strip public workers of most of their collective bargaining rights. Mr. Friesner and Ms. Steagall are helping to manage a team of “zone coordinators” throughout the state. Their team has already completed more than 150 presentations to thousands of seniors on the importance of voting No on “Issue 2,” as SB-5 appears on the November 8 ballot. The team has also helped seniors connect with early voting efforts, recruited retiree volunteers for phone banks, and put thousands of pieces of literature into the hands of seniors. Today, Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance, and Mr. Coyle are speaking on a tele-town hall call for Ohio retirees. With only 18 days until the special election, volunteers are preparing to Get Out The Vote. Please contact Alliance Organizer Norm Wernet at 614-224-8271, x1004 or emailnwernet@retiredamericans.org to get involved.

Long Term Care “CLASS Act” Screeches to a Halt

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials released a statement last Friday stating that work on the long term care “CLASS Act” is to be suspended. The CLASS Act was a last-minute provision added to health care reform. CLASS, or Community Living Assistance Services and Supports, would provide long term care for beneficiaries by drawing revenue from a voluntary payroll tax. Without a large enough base of healthy participants for the program, HHS would have to increase premiums, driving people away. The Obama Administration is not happy about this suspension. President Obama stands firmly against any action to repeal CLASS. If CLASS gets repealed, it will be more ammunition for the Republicans to push total repeal of health care reform. “The issue of long term care is not going away. We must deal with long term care as a nation,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

Alliance out West: Washington State and Nevada Go Inter-Generational

By taking part in an effort called “Just Scrap the Cap,” Washington Alliance members have found a way to reach out to a different generation. Working with Social Security Works Washington and The Economic Opportunity Institute, they are circulating a clever rap video with lyrics suggesting a situation in which a mother and father have to move in with their adult son after endless cuts to their Social Security benefits. It is available at http://bit.ly/qDYWKC. “The video is a creative, inter-generational way to educate the public.  Please share it with your children and grandchildren,” said Ms. Easterling.

On Saturday, Nevada Alliance members were among 1,000 demonstrators who took part in the “Occupy Las Vegas” movement, an off-shoot of Occupy Wall Street. During this Las Vegas rally, approximately 30 NARA members participated for hours on end to demand jobs and better health care. View the video at http://bit.ly/nM4OmD.

Alliance in the East: Georgia and Pennsylvania Work with Their State Legislators

Members of the Alliance in the East are also doing their part to ensure that programs beneficial to seniors are recognized and that seniors’ rights are not challenged unfairly. After a tremendous effort from the Georgia Alliance, the Georgia Legislature and Senate recently passed a resolution commemorating Social Security. With a number of Republicans voting in the affirmative, the state bodies commended Social Security for its outstanding contributions to the citizens of Georgia on the 76th anniversary of the program.  “The resolution noted that Social Security works for Georgia’s retired workers by providing benefits to over 824,600 residents,” stated Kenny Bradford, President of the Georgia Alliance.

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Alliance and two dozen other groups rallied, protested, and urged the Pennsylvania Senate to defeat House Bill 934, which would adversely affect retirees by requiring voters to produce photo identification every time they vote. Pennsylvania Alliance members also hosted a policy discussion on Social Security, Medicare, and retirement security for America’s middle and working class seniors on Monday in Philadelphia, and on Tuesday in York.

Barbara Easterling: from Long Beach to Long Island

Ms. Easterling was in Long Beach, California this week, speaking at the California Alliance Convention, where she urged seniors to be proactive when it comes to government cuts that could affect Social Security and Medicare. Yesterday, she was on Long Island in New York, giving a speech at the Coalition of Retired Teachers of Long Island luncheon.

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